After GOP Debate, Romney Leads Obama; Perry Now Trails

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Sep 16, 2011   |   1:00PM    Washington, DC

Following the second Republican presidential debate in which pro-life Texas Gov. Rick Perry appeared, he has seen his lead against pro-abortion President Barack Obama evaporate while rival Mitt Romney now runs ahead of the president.

“Before he entered his first debate as a presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry was the Republican frontrunner and held a modest lead in a hypothetical matchup against President Obama. Perry was the target for all the other candidates in the two most recent GOP debates, however, and he now trails the president by single digits,” says pollster Scott Rasmussen about his new national poll.

The Rasmussen national telephone survey of likely voters shows Obama picking up 46% of the vote, while Perry earns support from 39%. Fifteen percent (15%) are either undecided or prefer another candidate. Two weeks ago,  Perry was up by three percent and, three weeks ago, Perry held a three=percent lead over Obama.

Perry trails Obama by 15 percentage points among women and barely leads among men. Perry trails among voters under 40, runs even among 40-somethings and leads among those 50 and older.

“It’s worth remembering that most voters over 40 voted against Obama in 2008,” Rasmussen said.

Perry currently attracts just 71% of the Republican vote, while the president wins 85% of Democrats. Among voters not affiliated with either party, the race is a toss-up. That makes it appear Perry will do well once Republican voters get to know him better and the expectation is that Republicans will coalesce around Perry, or the eventual nominee if it is someone else, and more than 90-95 percent of Republicans will ultimately support the nominee versus Obama next year.

Now, Perry’s chief rival for the nomination, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, holds a three-point lead on the president, the Rasmussen survey shows. Romney, who is running as a pro-life candidate after having previously supported abortion, is the only Republican candidate with a lead over Obama. Another GOP hopeful, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, trails Obama by double digits after seeing much of her support evaporate after Perry’s entrance into the race.

“The fluctuation in Perry’s, Romney’s and Bachmann’s numbers comes as a Generic Republican  maintains a steady lead over the president,” Rasmussen said. “The president’s Job Approval ratings remain consistently in the low-to-mid 40s. As the election draws closer, Obama’s Job Approval will provide a good indication of his likely vote total. If his Job Approval rating is over 50% in November 2012, it will be difficult for any Republican to beat him. If his ratings move into the low 40s or below, it will be difficult for the president to win unless there is a major third-party candidate in the mix.”

“Perceptions of the economy are likely to play a significant role in shaping the president’s Job Approval ratings. Currently, Americans say their own finances are weaker than the day Obama took office and significantly weaker than in the fall of 2008,” Rasmussen added.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on September 14-15, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.